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Andrew Cuomo New York City New York State

Press conference with New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo (3/28/20)

Before I start today’s notes, I want to speak a little bit about my life before COVID-19. As I state in the about me section of this website, before this virus came along I was a freelance experiential marketer.

You might be wondering, what does that mean? Experiential marketing basically refers to any sort of marketing that’s done face to face with other people. I think the most easily recognizable example of experiential marketing are auto shows. The people you see standing by the cars, the people who welcome you to the display and answer your questions, do not work directly for the brands they are representing. We work for talent and staffing agencies, and most of us have represented hundreds, if not thousands, of brands at conventions and promotional tours all across the country. I personally have worked events in about 25 states, but several of my colleagues have made it fairly close to all 50.

One thing that I love about my job, is that it allows me to continuously connect with other humans on a personal level, from all walks of life. I see the very best, and the very worst, of people all the time throughout my daily interactions. I am used to dealing with large crowds, with calming people’s anxiety over uncontrollable things like wait times, or calming people’s decision making fears. And through my adjacent experience with event production, I have also become accustomed to learning to adapt to changing circumstances quickly.

But, all of my life experience and coping skills are geared towards managing being surrounded by other people. This situation presents me with a completely different sort of challenge. This situation has forced me to manage myself. I am the one one who needs calming now, and there is no one here to redirect my energy and renew my spirits when I fall short. I live alone in The Bronx. It’s just me and my cat, in a one bedroom apartment, staring out the window at the unknown. Gone are the tours across the country, the conventions, and the film festivals. Rather than waking up everyday ready to use my energy to make people smile, I wake up everyday praying that no one I know dies.

I’m telling you this because I want you to have some context for why these press conferences and updates are so important to me. If you are reading this from outside of New York City, you might not yet understand the impact this crisis has had on our culture and our way of life. It might seem far removed for you, wherever you are. As someone who lives in the current epicenter of this pandemic, I want you to understand the reality on the ground. I want you to understand that your city could be next. And, most importantly of all, I would like to use my skills to connect with you all as a human being once more.

Thank you for allowing me this platform, everyone. On to the notes!

ANDREW CUOMO

  • The situation manifests itself in many different ways, through economic anxiety, fear of isolation, panic from misinformation, etc. If you feel lost or disoriented, it’s not you. It’s everyone, and it’s everywhere.
  • Today is Saturday. How many of us knew that? I am in the same position Cuomo’s in. All of the days now feel the same to me. I’m sure many of you can relate.
  • The state of New York had our first COVID-19 case 27 days ago. Please stop and reflect on that. Our entire existence here in New York was completely derailed in less than a month.
  • New York schools closed only 10 days ago.
  • The first school closures in New Rochelle during the first major outbreak happened 18 days ago.
  • The overall shutdown on non essential workers was only 8 days ago. He says it feels like a lifetime ago, and I agree.
  • How long will this go on? Let’s look at some other countries to try to gain some perspective.
  • China had their first test case 12 weeks ago.
  • South Korea had their first test case 9 weeks ago.
  • Italy had their first test case 8 weeks ago.
  • NOTE FROM ME: He didn’t talk about this, but I would like to give you all some added context myself. China locked down the entire province of Hubei on January 23rd. The city of Wuhan just lifted some of the lockdown requirements today, Saturday March 28th. This means that they were in lockdown for slightly more than two months. Italy fully locked down on March 9th (although some cities were on lockdown before the national decision), and they are still locked down. Also, for those keeping score at home, it looks like Italy suspended travel to China before the US did, contrary to what Cheetolini keeps saying. South Korea didn’t have to lockdown, because they handled this better than us from jump.
  • Every emergency situation is unique.
  • During Superstorm Sandy, we needed 1,000 portable generators and 700 miles of sandbags. So, there is always something unique to every crisis. In this case, we need ventilators.
  • Once again, the average patient who needs a ventilator with a normal respiratory issue will need a ventilator for 3 – 4 days. A COVID-19 patient may need one for up to 20 days, which increases the problem of scarcity.
  • He believes the president was right to invoke the defense production act.
  • As governor, he consults with all the experts about all of the possible scenarios in this situation.
  • What if we don’t have ventilators? Then we use bag valve masks.
  • What is a bag valve mask? It’s basically a manual ventilator that someone has to squeeze by hand.
  • They are buying these masks as well. They have about 3,000 already, and they have ordered an additional 4,000.
  • They are talking about training national guard people to operate these masks, although it would be a desperate last resort move since it requires so much manpower to operate.
  • In short, he says his preferred answer to using these would be “No, thank you”. But, we have them.
  • Do we really need 30,000 ventilators? Well, let’s look at the numbers one more time.
  • The projected numbers say yes. The numbers suggest that at the apex of our curve, we will need 140,000 beds and 30,000 ventilators. Period.
  • He says maybe we will get lucky and flatten the curve enough not to need these numbers, but we’re not running this show on maybes.
  • Ventilators cost about $25k – 45k each. (!!!!)
  • The state is buying most of the ventilators, and we are already in a terrible financial position. So, to be clear, we are not trying to inflate these numbers. The state has no interest in asking for more than we need.
  • When they started buying ventilators, the price was averaging 25k each. It was shot up to $45k each because of demand.
  • NOTE FROM ME: Wow. That is really sad. Shame on all of these companies for taking advantage of this crisis. I understand that there is a price tag that comes along with increased, accelerated production, but this is absurd. I don’t know how some people sleep at night.
  • The government sent 4,000 ventilators. Why aren’t we using them? You know what, he answered this question civilly. But, I’m not going to. WTF, do people not understand how preparation works??? Some of this country has never planned for a damn thing in their lives, and it shows. This is why so many Americans get suckered into things like joining pyramid schemes and voting for Donald Trump! Some people have no foresight whatsoever! So, in short, we aren’t using them yet because we don’t need them yet. But, we definitely will need them IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
  • Ok, so in his much calmer words; “because we are preparing and stockpiling for the Apex.” and because “we want to have what we need when we need it.”
  • He quotes an old expression: “You go to war with what you have, not with what you need.” but adds, until you go to war you should prepare!
  • “Our mission is to be ready for the apex.”
  • The apex is still forecasted to happen in 14 – 21 days.
  • That number can always change.
  • In the short term, we are ok in terms of PPE. We are working on addressing long term needs.
  • The CDC has decided to enact crisis guidelines for PPE, which means using less PPE than would normally be used in a hospital. Many doctors and nurses are concerned about this. The state is looking into this. If the state doctors feel the CDC guidelines are not protecting our medical staff properly, the state will change the guidelines for our healthcare professionals.
  • We now have 72,000 medically trained volunteers ready to help us in New York.
  • He says we need regional hospitals to change their orientation. Rather than our traditional model where every hospital operates on their own, we need hospitals to work together (both public and private) and shift resources and patients when one hospital is overwhelmed. The state department of health not only advises this, but now mandates this.
  • There may come a point where the state steps in and allocates where patients need to go. This means patients who can safely be moved from downstate to upstate may be moved by the state if hospitals in long island, or the new york city metro area become too overwhelmed to handle their patient load.
  • He is asking the major pharmacy chains to start doing home delivery services, free of charge.
  • The department of health is monitoring the density and activity in New York City parks, specifically on the playgrounds. They put plans in place to allow people places to go while still maintaining social distancing. If people do not comply with the 6 ft separation rules, the playgrounds will be closed.
  • He pleads with the people, especially the young people, of New York City to take this seriously.
  • NOTE FROM ME: I personally have just been staying inside since the lockdown started, but I can understand why some people feel the need to go to the parks. That said, if you’re going to go, DON’T RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE BY BEING STUPID. A lot of people are about to have our only opportunity for fresh air taken away simply because some of y’all refuse to follow directions. STAY SIX FEET AWAY FROM ONE ANOTHER AND STOP BEING JACKHOLES. Yes, this rant includes your children!
  • We are doing tests on Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax.
  • So far, 1,100 tests have been administered.
  • These tests have mainly been happening in New York City, and we will be hearing the results of those tests soon.
  • The emergency hospital at the Javits Center will open on Monday. Wow.
  • The USNS Comfort leaves for New York today. It will arrive on Monday as well.
  • The USNS Comfort is bringing us 1,000 beds, 1,200 medical personnel, 12 Operating rooms, a pharmacy, and a lab. The medical personnel will be the most needed resource of all.
  • The ship will be used to backfill some of the overflow from the hospitals.
  • He says he spoke to the president this morning, and he approved the four new hospital sites.
  • He apologizes for being late for today’s conference because of that call, which I have to point out because it’s such a huge contrast to Trump. Trump declares a different time for his press conference every day and then is CONSISTENTLY late for the time that he himself picked! Now I know some of you who know me well will laugh at the idea of me getting on anyone else for being late. But, I’m not the president of The United States Of America!
  • The four new hospital locations will once again be: Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, CUNY Staten Island, and The New York Expo Center in The Bronx.
  • He toured these sites yesterday, and he says they are appropriate for our needs.
  • He says that it was very important to him that every borough gets a field hospital, and that we are treated equally.
  • NOTE FROM ME: As a long time resident of the city’s most neglected borough, The Bronx, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate him for doing this. If you could see the difference in how Manhattan and the wealthy parts of Brooklyn are treated by the MTA in normal life, versus how we are treated up here, you would know why this declaration matters to me. I know there will always be an element of “the haves and the have nots” in how people are treated in a crisis, but it makes me feel better to know that equal treatment of the boroughs is at least on his radar. I’m sure the people of Staten Island also appreciate this, as I heard a few days ago that their hospitals were nearing capacity and they have the hardest time getting to another borough.
  • They are adding to their bed capacity as well at three new sites, giving us a total of 695 new beds.
  • The three new sites are South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island (260 beds), Westchester Square in The Bronx (200 beds), and Health Alliance (formerly Benedictine Hospital) in Ulster County (235 beds).
  • They are also shifting to having COVID only sites, with 600+ beds available in total.
  • The COVID only locations will be South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island, Westchester Square in The Bronx, and SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn.
  • The New York State Department of Health has gotten approval from the test to start trying a new test, which is an antibody test to see if individuals were in fact previously infected with the COVID virus and now have immunity.
  • New York State’s primary election was scheduled to happen on April 28th. He does not think it’s wise to bring so many people to vote during this crisis, so the New York State primary election is now moved to coincide with the previously scheduled state legislative and congressional election on June 23rd.
  • The state tax filing deadline has been moved to July 15th, which is the same day as the new federal deadline.
  • So far, New York state has tested 155,934 people in total. 17,412 of those tests are new tests since the last press conference.
  • 65,902 people in total have been tested in New York City. 7,948 of those tests are new since the last press conference.
  • At the time of the press conference, New York State had 52,318 positive cases. 7,681 of those cases are new since the last press conference.
  • At the time of the press conference, New York City had 29,766 positive cases. 4,368 of those cases are new cases since the last press conference.
  • We currently have 7,328 people hospitalized in New York State.
  • We currently have 1,755 ICU patients in New York State (someone requiring a ventilator).
  • And 2,726 patients have been discharged. That’s 681 more than yesterday.
  • We are still the most impacted state. The second most impacted state is our dear neighbor, New Jersey, at 8,825 cases. The third most impacted state is California, where I have family and many friends, coming in at 4,914. Washington, where I also have friends (and incidentally I have a lot of coworkers, one of whom exposed me to the virus at PAX East), is fourth most impacted at 3,770. Coming in at number five, is Michigan with 3,651. I was born in Michigan, and I lived there until I was 17. My parents are in Michigan. My grandmother is in Michigan. Many of my friends are in Michigan. I’m praying for all of us.
  • We have had 728 deaths so far in New York State. This number is up from 519 yesterday.
  • Rounding out the other top five most impacted states: New Jersey has had 108 deaths, California has had 102 deaths, Washington has had 177 deaths, and Michigan has had 93 deaths so far.
  • People have complained that New York has been asking for more resources than other states, and that is true. But, if you look at the numbers, it’s pretty easy to understand why we are asking.
  • If you’re looking for good news, there were only 172 people admitted to the ICU yesterday. This is down from 374 the day before. This is the lowest this number has been in four days.
  • The number of hospitalizations also dropped a bit yesterday. 847 people were admitted to the hospital yesterday, versus 1,154 the day before.
  • Don’t put too much stock in the numbers for any one day, but these last two numbers are a good thing.
  • “Yes, death is inevitable for all of us. But, just not today.”
  • WHAT DO WE SAY TO THE GOD OF DEATH, Y’ALL??? NOT TODAY! 🙂
  • Wash your hands and stop touching each other, you heathens.
  • Rule one in any situation is to plan forward. Be proactive, not reactive. We’ve been behind this virus since day one. He says we have been reacting to the virus, but you don’t win being on the defense. We need to find ways to be on the offense.
  • QUOTE: “That’s what we’re doing with the Apex preparation. We don’t have that crisis today. We could have that crisis in 14 to 21 days. So, YES, I’m creating a stockpile TODAY for a possible reality 14 to 21 days from now. I’m not going to wait for day 13 to say ‘oh my gosh, we need 30,000 ventilators’. It’s over. So, get ahead of it.”
  • CONT. QUOTE: “But, beyond just New York, as a nation, we have to start to get ahead of this, in two areas specifically. On purchasing, you can’t have a situation where 50 states are competing with each other to buy the same material. That is what is happening now. When I showed you the price of ventilators went from $25k to $45k, why? Because we bid $25k, and California says ‘I’ll give you $30k, and Illinois says ‘I’ll give you $35k, Florida says ‘I’ll give you $40k’. We’re literally bidding up the prices ourselves.”
  • CONT. QUOTE: “Now, every state… no ones doing anything wrong. I’m here to protect New York. That’s what I get paid to do. I have to acquire the ventilators. I have to pay whatever I have to pay to acquire the ventilators. I don’t mean to take them from other states. But, when you have a system where you say to the states ‘Ok, you go out and buy what you need to buy’, we all need to buy the same thing. We all need to buy PPE. We all need to buy N95 masks. We all need to buy ventilators. So, we’re all shopping the same distributors, the same group, and it’s not even legally price gouging. I was attorney general. I don’t even think you could get a price gouging case! This is just private market competition. My daughter Cara is working on the purchasing team. They change the prices, you can see the prices going up literally during the course of the day.”
  • NOTE FROM ME: He says the federal government should organize this, or “the states among themselves”. I think that last one is the more realistic solution. Trump is obviously showing favoritism to certain states, and his cruelty will end up getting people killed. I think all of the blue states, and any sensible red states that would like to join, should band together and form a buying coalition and do take care of this problem ourselves. We already know Trump has told providers not to send anything to Michigan, and he made it pretty clear yesterday that he has no real intention of sending more Ventilators to New York. I realize what I’m saying here is like asking for a civil war, but this is literally a matter of life and death. In my opinion, we can’t afford to wait for Trump to act like a real leader here.
  • QUOTE: “And then, by the way, when the federal government goes out to buy the same equipment for their stockpile, now it’s 50 states competing up against the states AND the federal government competing against the states!”
  • He says we need a nationwide buying consortium, and clearly I AGREE. He suggests basically exactly what I just suggested (minus the blue and red arguments and civil war lol), and says he will bring this up among the other state governors.
  • He says the second thing we need to do is plan forward on testing. We need more tests, and we need faster results.
  • He says we need to open the market to tests from other countries, and that a 5 day waiting period for test results is too long. That’s five days that someone could go out and infect someone else.
  • He says the only way to open up our economy quickly is to invest in millions of tests, and begin testing to see who has the antibody already and can safely return to work.
  • “Remember this is a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
  • “We must do our part and we must adjust.”
  • “We must look for the silver lining.”
  • “You have the advantage of time here” and I agree with him about this. He says that the time he now has to stay at home and talk to his daughters is priceless, and that we may never have it again. He is right about this. While we are in lockdown mode, take this time to appreciate what you have and work on things you never had time for before. Watch a movie, read a book, start a blog… 🙂
  • “This will be over, and we will be better for it.”

QUESTIONS

  • QUESTION: Trump is apparently considering a quarantine of the tristate area. He also said that he had spoken with you about this. What do you have to say about that?
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “I spoke to the president about the ship coming up, and the four sites. I didn’t speak to him about any quarantine.”
  • QUESTION: He hasn’t spoken to you about a quarantine? Have you had any indication that a quarantine is possible for New York?
  • CUOMO: QUOTE “No, I haven’t had those conversations. I don’t even know what that means.”
  • QUESTION: Mayor De Blasio said yesterday that April 5th is the day that New York City is expecting some sort of Apex. What can they do to prepare for that, given that at this point we only have a couple thousand extra hospital beds?
  • CUOMO: QUOTE: “April 5th? Well, uh look… all of the projections on the apex are just that, projections. April 5th is earlier than our state projection. So Dr. Zucker will get with the local health commissioner there to have that conversation.” He goes on to say that we can shift patients from New York City upstate if need be.
  • QUESTION: The president said he’s looking at some sort of enforceable quarantine for New York, and parts of the tristate area. Is that a sound policy from your perspective, or would you advise against it?
  • CUOMO: QUOTE: “I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. But, I can tell you this, I don’t even like the sound of it, not even understanding what it is. I don’t like the sounds of it.”
  • QUESTION: There are people in New Rochelle who have been quarantined for 24 – 25 days. There’s some confusion about the guidance that says you have to wait a certain number of days without being symptomatic, or whether you should have to pass a second test to be let out of quarantine. What is the state’s guidance on that?
  • DR. ZUCKER: That quarantine has been lifted there. For those that have been positive for 7 – 10 days, if they don’t have symptoms for 72 hours they are considered cleared.
  • QUESTION: What’s your reaction to the governor of Rhode Island stopping people with New York plates and attempting to keep them out of her state?
  • CUOMO: I don’t know any details about that. Take everything with a grain of salt.
  • QUESTION: Did you have a call with the other governors in the tristate area this morning?
  • CUOMO: No.
  • QUESTION: Are you getting any reports of false positive tests?
  • DR. ZUCKER: No.
  • QUESTION: Are you changing any requirements to unemployment? Or at least any in person activities?
  • ROBERT MUJICA: For now, no. But, the in person requirements can now be done online or by phone.
  • QUESTION: Some people are upset by what appear to be cuts in the public hospital system during this crisis. Can you comment on that?
  • CUOMO: The hospitals are receiving more funding than any other area right now. They’re getting $100 billion nationally. QUOTE: “look, we have no money. Life is options. That state has no money. But, if you’re getting… the federal bill has $100 billion for hospitals for coronavirus expenses. They are doing better than anyone else.”
  • QUESTION: How are you handling partners being in the room for births right now?
  • MELISSA DEROSA: We had issued a ruling that partners should be allowed in for births, and some hospitals were ignoring that. We updated that guidance to make it a directive, and it will be reinforced again as an executive order. Hospitals should allow one person in for the birth in addition to the mother.
  • QUESTION: Do you intend on drawing away any of the money intended for hospitals for the state?
  • CUOMO: The way they wrote the law, we can’t.
  • QUESTION: Yesterday you said you need 40,000 ventilators, today it was 30,000. Why the change?
  • CUOMO: It’s because we acquired some already.
  • QUESTION: Has anyone contacted you to dispute being on or off the essential workers list? And if so, what was the result?
  • CUOMO: Nope.
  • QUESTION: (paraphrasing what I feel was the intent of this question) De Blasio’s been releasing people from jail over in New York City like it’s the last day of school, do you have plans to follow suit?
  • CUOMO: We are looking at that now.
  • QUESTION: Have you thought about what sort of statistics you would need to see on the backend of the apex before you start easing up on lockdown restrictions?
  • CUOMO: No. We’re focused on the apex.
  • QUESTION: Will you consider raising taxes on the wealthy?
  • CUOMO: I don’t know how you raise taxes on people who are out of work, and their businesses are closed.
  • QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to the loss of another nurse?
  • CUOMO: He says he is not shocked, because they are doing a very dangerous job. He says our first responders are truly extraordinary, and that they are heroes. He says he is in awe of them. He says thank god for those people, and that he is sorry for their loss.

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